Untitled (Men's Ceremonial Ground, Springvale), 1984 natural earth pigments and bush gum on canvas 94.5 x 180.5 cm (37 3/16 x 71 1/16in).
PROVENANCE: Painted at Warmun, Turkey Creek, Western Australia Purchased from Mary Macha, Perth in May 1994 The Laverty Collection, Sydney
EXHIBITED: Mapping our Countries, Djamu Gallery, Australian Museum at Customs House, Circular Quay, Sydney, 8 October 1999 - 27 March 2000 True Stories: Art of the East Kimberley, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 11 January - 27 April 2003
LITERATURE: Colin Laverty and Elizabeth Laverty et al., Beyond Sacred: Recent Painting from Australia's Remote Aboriginal Communities - the collection of Colin and Elizabeth Laverty, Melbourne: Hardie Grant Books, 2008, pp.210-211 (illus.) Colin Laverty and Elizabeth Laverty et al., Beyond Sacred: Australian Aboriginal Art - the collection of Colin and Elizabeth Laverty, Edition II, Melbourne: Kleimeyer Industries, 2011, pp.222-3 (illus.)
Paddy Jaminji was the original painter of the panels carried in the Kurirr Kurirr ceremony, and with his kin nephew Rover Thomas, he was the prime instigator of a modern painting movement that emerged in the eastern Kimberley in the wake of Cyclone Tracy. His role is clearly stated in his own words, recollected by Kim Akerman as the title to his essay on the artist in the catalogue of Jaminji's survey exhibition at the Holmes à Court Gallery in Perth in 2004: '"I Bin Paint'im First": Paddy Jaminji - Trailblazing Artist of the Warmun School of Aboriginal Art.'
The Kurirr Kurirr is about Cyclone Tracy and the destruction of Darwin on Christmas Eve, 1974, by Wungurr the ancestral Rainbow Serpent. Over the following months, the ceremony had been revealed to Rover Thomas by the spirit of a woman who had died from injuries incurred in a car accident caused by the flooding waters of the cyclone. The woman was Jaminji's kin sister and Thomas' aunt; hence Jaminji was in the correct complementary kin relationship to execute the paintings, as is customary. The first Kurirr Kurirr ceremonies occurred in the late 1970s and were performed to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal audiences alike as a statement of cultural survival after years of social disruption for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.
The first paintings made for sale at Warmun were usually connected to the Kurirr Kurirr, but in time artists began to paint unrelated subjects. Jaminji was particularly intent of preserving Gija culture and ancestral knowledge through his art. Painted in 1984, Untitled (Men's ceremonial ground, Springvale) is among the artist's earliest works that feature a subject unconnected to the Kurirr Kurirr, as are several other paintings made in the same year in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia (see Caruana, W. (ed), Windows on the Dreaming: Aboriginal Paintings in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra: Australian National Gallery, and Sydney: Ellsyd Press, 1989, plates 100-3, pp.173-5).
Jaminji's work has been included in several major exhibitions in Australia and abroad, including: Recent Aboriginal Art of Western Australia and Aboriginal Art: The Continuing Tradition at the National Gallery of Australia in 1987 and 1989 respectively; Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1993; ARATJARA, Art of the First Australians, at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Hayward Gallery, London, and the Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark in 1993-4; and Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1994.
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